Like pretty much anyone in their teens or early 20s, Craig Wayne Boyd had a time where he felt like he needed to rebel.
The guy, who was raised in Mesquite, Texas, on a steady diet of bluegrass and gospel; the guy who was taught by his dad to play mandolin at the tender age of 4 and the guy whose grandmother was an avid country music fan and “Johnny Cash groupie” who followed him around on tour decided to go against the grain and try a different musical direction in his early days — with particular emphasis on the word “try.”
“After rebelling against dad and playing some rock music, I realized as soon as I opened my mouth that rock music was not what I can sing,” Boyd said.
He couldn’t fight it. He was meant to be a country singer. You could see and hear it immediately when Boyd appeared on Season 7 of NBC’s hit singing competition The Voice, where he went on to win the competition under the tutelage of show coach and country artist Blake Shelton.
Many people know Boyd from the show, but people know less about his journey that led him to that opportunity. Boyd decided to pack up and move to Nashville in 2004. He quickly infiltrated the songwriter scene and landed a publishing deal with EMI within seven months. While breaking into Music City’s songwriting community was quick, his attempts to break out as a country artist was a consistent grind.
“I was told, it’s a 10-year town. It’s a 12-year town and if you don’t have the patience, if you’re not willing to put in that time, you shouldn’t go,” Boyd said. “Being an artist takes a lot more than being a good songwriter or being a good singer or, for that matter, being a good performer. It takes all of it.”
Boyd said he went through a few mild re-inventions in Nashville, both performing in groups and as a solo artist. He experienced the peaks of having a song on country radio and the valleys of having a record deal fall apart shortly thereafter. Boyd tried out for The Voice as a way to gain more exposure but also to see what he was capable of as an artist and performer. He said the experience came with its own ups and downs, but it ultimately gave a huge boost to his confidence and one heck of a jumping off point.
“It’s like throwing rocket fuel on your career. All of the sudden, you’re way up there, you’re way up high,” he said. “What a lot of people don’t realize is you have to have the structure underneath that. It’s something that I’m continuing to do.”
Following his Voice victory, Boyd was signed to Dot Records and his first single My Baby’s Got a Smile On Her Face shot to No. 1 on the Billboard US Country Chart when it debuted in 2014. He has performed everywhere from arenas to the Grand Ole Opry while opening up for the likes of Jamey Johnson, Randy House, Brantley Gilbert and Rascal Flatts.
Boyd is currently signed to a new label with a soon-to-be-released single Wild Ways set to hit country radio followed by a new album scheduled for release in 2017. Fresh off a recent performance at the CMA Festival in Nashville, he will be coming to Lexington to perform at Austin City Saloon Saturday night.
Boyd said he will play a set of songs perfect for a honky tonk like Austin City to get the crowd upbeat, dancing and having a good time. It’ll be a mood in the crowd that will match the mood of the performer on stage, who has a good feeling about what might be coming next.
“In my time schedule, I would have loved for (success) to happen years ago,” he said. “It wasn’t the right timing. Right now, it seems like it’s falling into place like it should.”
Blake Hannon: email@example.com.
If you go
Craig Wayne Boyd
When: 9 p.m. June 18
Where: Austin City Saloon, 2350 Woodhill Dr.